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Carmen Gebhard, Small State Theory – The Conduct of Small States in Foreign Policy in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 117 - 127

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5 https://doi.org/10.5771/9783845212395

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
117 Today, the legacy of these years of bold Swedish internationalism still seems to be present in Sweden’s own international role perception.402 Equally, Finland appears to be acting in the old context of intra-Nordic inferiority to Sweden, but also to the old great power Denmark. The notion of Finland being the Nordic lillebror (Swed. little brother) and its closest neighbour, Sweden, Finland’s storebror (Swed. big brother) are still common in every-day talk in Northern Europe.403 III. Small State Theory – The Conduct of Small States in Foreign Policy When analysing Swedish and Finnish self-perception, the aspect of small statehood and small state thinking must be treated as a strong and important marker. Sweden and Finland as well as their Nordic fellow states Denmark, Norway and Iceland could, in quantitative terms, all be termed as small states in the conventional sense. However, telling from each country’s foreign political conduct and domestic rhetoric, this factual state ‘size’ appears not to be always neatly complying with their respective selfperception. As outlined above, this was particularly evident with Swedish foreign politics during the Cold War. Despite its clearly inferior position in respect to the two blocks, Sweden chose an activist and to large extents provocative strategy for its overall foreign political conduct. The following chapter will present a few elements of traditional Small State Theory in order to substantiate the discussion on small statehood in foreign policy. This should eventually allow for a more differentiated evaluation of notions like the Swedish ‘perceived greatness’ and the Finnish self-image of being the ‘forever vulnerable and needy second.’404 1. What Makes a State a ‘Small State’? Much literature about small states pays considerable attention to the question of how “small states” could be defined. Theorists have employed different measures to define the smallness of states: next to the geographical size of a state or its population, also the degree of influence in international affairs has been taken as a criterion for analysis.405 However, various attempts of defining state smallness alongside quantitative criteria, 402 For a critical discussion, see OTTOSSON Sten: Svensk självbild under kalla kriget. En studie av stats- och utrikesministrarnas bild av Sverige 1950-1989. Stockholm 2003. And JERNECK Magnus: Olof Palme. En internationell propagandist. In: HULDT Bo/MISGELD Klas (eds.): Socialdemokratin och den svenska utrikespolitiken. Stockholm 1990, pp. 112-139. And GEBHARD Carmen: Europäische Integration und Neutralität. Österreich und Schweden im Vergleich. Vienna 2004, pp. 53-57. 403 See for example, FREDERIKSSON Gunnar: Vet du om att du är stöddig? Aftonbladet, 14 oktober 1996, p. 20. And KLEBERG Olof: Stolta Finland med i gänget. In: Västerbottens Kuriren, 9 maj 1998, p. 2. And ERIKSEN Knut Einar: Norge og Norden. Samarbeid og kollisjon. In: Atlanterhavskomitéen (ed.): NATO 50 år. Norsk sikkerhetspolitikk med NATO gjennom 50 år. Oslo 1999. And BRANDER Richard: Finland och Sverige i EU. Tio år av medlemskap. Helsinki 2004. And PETERSEN Leif: Splittrad familj drar åt olika hall. In: Svenska Dagbladet, 25 november 2006, p. 160. 404 Elements of this characterisation of the two states appear in SUOMINEN Tapani/BJÖRNSSON Anders (eds): Det hotade landet och det skyddade. Sverige och Finland från 1500-talet till våra dagar. Historiska och säkerhetspolitiska betraktelser. Stockholm 2002. 405 See HEY Jeanne A. K.: Introducing Small State Foreign Policy. In: Id. (ed.): Small States in World Politics. Explaining Foreign Policy Behaviour. Boulder 2003, pp. 1-11, here p. 2. See also VITAL David: The Inequality of States. Oxford 1967. 118 grouping countries by population, geography or any other quantifiable measure, have to remain vague. Taking, for instance, the measurement suggested by Clark and Payne, which classifies states with a population size between 10 and 15 million as “small”, states as different as Belgium and Ecuador would be put into the same category. The enormous variety of states that can be labelled “small” in quantitative terms limits the applicability of a general small state foreign policy theory.406 Given these methodological problems, it remains difficult to operationalise the smallness of states. In order to eschew rigid specifications and thus, trying to offer a flexible and nevertheless specific definition, Hey made a very pragmatic suggestion: The research on small states, despite its attempts at formal definitions, is best characterised by and ‘I know one when I see it’ approach to choosing its subject of inquiry. I would argue that this approach improves on rigid definitions that fail to reach an agreed-on group of small states. It also avoids the intellectual squabbles that invariably arise in reaction to any specific definition of a small state. Indeed, the small state literature has been too bogged down in such arguments.407 This individualistic approach succeeds in giving a practicable but vague definition. It takes the variety of types of small states into account without refusing the significance of smallness as an analytical point of reference.408 Normative approaches, on the other hand, suggest definitions that are related to the respective state’s self-perception. The perceptive component of psychological and ideological self-imaging takes centre stage. The concept of a small state is not least based on the idea of perceptions. That is, if a state’s people and institutions generally perceive themselves to be small, or if other states’ people and institutions perceive that state as small, it shall be so considered.409 This approach also reflects the model suggested by Rothstein und Keohane: A small power is a state which recognizes that it cannot obtain security primarily by use of its own capabilities, and that it must rely fundamentally on the aid of others.410 A small power is a state whose leaders consider that it can never, acting alone or in a small group, make a significant impact on the system.411 According to these perception-based approaches, states are deemed small not by any objective definition or quantifiable measure, but by their (self)perceived power and role on the international or global scene. It appears important to point out that this perceived or alleged ‘size’ of a state is always defined with reference to other states. 406 Because of this inconsistency of definitions and typologies, Baehr generally questioned the significance of smallness as an analytical point of reference in foreign policy studies. See BAEHR Peter R.: Small States. A Tool for Analysis. In: World Politics, No. 3/1975, pp. 456-466, here p. 459. 407 HEY Jeanne A. K.: Introducing Small State Foreign Policy. In: Id. (ed.): Small States in World Politics. Explaining Foreign Policy Behaviour. London 2003, p. 1-11, hier p. 3. 408 See HEY Jeanne A. K.: Foreign Policy in Dependent States. In: NEACK Laura/HEY Jeanne A. K./HANEY Patrick J. (eds): Foreign Policy Analysis. Continuity and Change in its Second Generation. Englewood Cliffs 1995, pp. 28-47, here p. 30. 409 HEY Jeanne A. K.: Introducing Small State Foreign Policy. In: Id. (ed.): Small States in World Politics. Explaining Foreign Policy Behaviour. London 2003, p. 1-11, hier p. 3. 410 ROTHSTEIN Robert: Alliances and Small Powers. New York 1968, p. 29. 411 KEOHANE Robert: Lilliputians’ Dilemmas. Small States in International Politics. In: International Organization, No. 2/1969, pp. 210-296, here p. 296. 119 Small [is meant] as small in relation to a much bigger and more powerful actor; ‘small’ as ‘smaller than’, which may very well mean ‘bigger than’ a number of other actors in several ways. A small state may well be geographically extensive or economically or otherwise successful or even dominant; although semantically paradoxical, a ‘small’ state may well be considered a middle-sized power – as might be the case with Sweden.412 Goetschel claims that the identity emerging from a state’s self-perception about its own size should be regarded as an important, if not as the only direct source of impact, “smallness” can have on state conduct or behaviour. Hence, the self-consciousness of the small state is said to constitute the major independent variable, either in the narrow sense that the state perceives itself as small or relatively minor, and thus, chooses an allegedly typical small state attitude; or the state perceives itself as bigger or equal to others, and thus, seeks to establish action strategies and adopt attitudes that comply with this self-image.413 2. Is There a Specific Pattern for Small State Foreign Policy Conduct? Next to the question of how to define and conceptualise smallness, Small State Theory mainly focuses on whether, how and to what extent smallness impacts on the conduct and behaviour of a state. Works on this issue have largely emerged in the field of early classic Small State Theory, which based on a quantitative definition of state smallness and therefore, largely coincided with research on weak states and small power. Inspired by the Cold War context, these approaches largely focussed on the role of small states within an alleged hierarchical international system as well as on the relative limitation of their power and capabilities. Hence, small statehood is equated with material inferiority, and thus, has distinct negative connotations.414 Starting from these presumptions, classic Small State Theory has identified a set of patterns of behaviour that are said to constitute the typical foreign political profile of small states.415 Summing up the most commonly cited suggestions in this context, one could list the following commonsense assumptions: small states are thought to – exhibit a low level of participation, presence and activity in world affairs; – focus on a narrow scope of foreign policy issues; – limit their foreign political engagement to their immediate geographic arena; – concentrate on diplomatic and economic alternatives to power-related instruments; 412 DAHL Ann-Sofie: To be or not to be Neutral. Swedish Security Strategy on the Post Cold War Era. In: INBAR Efraim/SHEFFER Gabriel (eds): The National Security of Small States in a Changing World. London 1997, pp. 175-196, here p. 177. 413 See GOETSCHEL Laurent: The Foreign and Security Policy Interests of Small States in Today’s Europe. In: Id. (ed.): Small States Inside and Outside the European Union. Interests and Policies. Boston/Dordrecht/London 1998, pp. 13-31, here p. 28. 414 An important notion in this context is the so-called “small state dilemma”. Kramer defines it in economic terms, meaning the search for a balance between the unavoidable opening of state economy and society to the global market and the preservation of sovereignty and autonomy as it is suggested by a general democratic understanding. See KRAMER Helmut: Kleinstaaten-Theorie und Kleinstaaten-Außenpolitik in Europa. In: WASCHKUHN Arno (ed.): Kleinstaat. Grundsätzliche und aktuelle Probleme. Symposium des Liechtenstein-Instituts 26-28 September 1991. Vaduz 1993, pp. 247-259, here p. 249. 415 See HEY Jeanne A. K.: Introducing Small State Foreign Policy. In: Id. (ed.): Small States in World Politics. Explaining Foreign Policy Behaviour. London 2003, pp. 1-12, here p. 5. 120 – show a particular focus on internationalist principles, norms and rules, such as international law and other value and morality related ideals; – secure multinational arrangements whenever possible;416 – choose neutral or mediatory positions in times of both conflict and peace; – uphold strong ties of solidarity with and rely on superpowers in order to gain protection and resources (“bandwagoning”);417 – aim to cooperate and avoid conflict with others; – particular readiness of cooperation, engagement for de-escalation of conflicts; – spend a disproportionate amount of foreign policy resources and efforts on ensuring physical and political security and survival. These general assumptions all build on the notion of smallness in the sense of material weakness and endangeredness, and thus, exclusively rely on quantitative criteria. Small states are perceived to be limited in their foreign political resources, and therefore, to constantly seek to maintain their influence as best as they can “in a realist world in which they are at disadvantage.”418 Starting from the assumption that small states suffer from a permanent power deficit, it is expected that small states strive for foreign political strategies and positions that strengthen their sovereignty in respect to other, bigger states.419 Because of their relatively weak power base within the international system, small states are expected to act in passive and reactive modes, rather than as proactive agents of international change.420 Despite single historical examples that might support part of these assumptions, the establishment of a standard model for small state action strategies in foreign policy appears to remain problematic. The most evident weakness of the above-given criteria is that most of them are not exclusive or unique to small states but could equally become applicable for medium-size or big states. Moreover, as the case of the Nordic group has shown, even the bipolar overlay produced by the Cold War setting did not keep small states from pursuing each a very different foreign political strategy. Again, small states are not unique in this respect, since states generally tend to respond differently to similar conditions. Additionally, it needs to be emphasised that since the end of the Cold War, small (and therefore weak) statehood is conditioned by the circumstances of a multipolar world order. ‘Realist’ power in terms of conventional military potential and 416 See THÜRER Daniel: Kleinstaat – Außenpolitische Aspekte. In: WASCHKUHN Arno (ed.): Kleinstaat. Grundsätzliche und aktuelle Probleme. Liechtenstein Politische Schriften, Vol. 16. Liechtenstein 1998, pp. 226-227, here p. 226. 417 Dahl defines bandwagoning as follows: “Instead of siding with the temporary ‘great power underdog’, a bandwagoning small state joins the great power on the move, thereby adding further, disproportionate weight to that side. As the strong grow stronger, the weak grow even weaker as a result of small states’ attempts to side with the winner, despite the risk that such behaviour might turn out to be counterproductive for those small states in the long run.” DAHL Ann-Sofie: To Be or Not to Be Neutral. In: INBAR Efraim/SHEFFER Gabriel (eds): The National Security of Small States in a Changing World. London 1997, pp. 175-196, here p. 183. 418 HEY Jeanne A. K.: Introducing Small State Foreign Policy. In: Id. (ed.): Small States in World Politics. Explaining Foreign Policy Behaviour. London 2003, pp. 1-12, here p. 6. 419 See KATZENSTEIN, Peter J.: The Culture of National Security. Norms and Identity in World Politics. New York 1996, p. 28. 420 See SUTTON Paul: Political Aspects. In: CLARKE Colin/PAYNE Tony (eds): Politics, Security and Development in Small States. London 1987, pp. 3-25, here p. 20. 121 the ability of overplaying international competitors with material qualities have become less important. The concept of the small state has not lost all its significance but much of it: in the presentday international arena small states have become standard players. Whereas, in the traditional sense of the term, the small state was defined by its weakness – especially with regard to its dependence on powerful states – the voice of the small state has been strengthened under the conditions of present-day international law and international politics.421 With the rising level of international integration and growing interdependence, small states defined in quantitative terms gain new opportunities of getting involved and engaged internationally at the same level as other, bigger and allegedly more powerful states. The notion of small states has lost – if ever it has had one – its relevance thanks to integrated market, political union, and the advantages of global playing fields. It is not the size of a state, which is relevant to its international position. It is its willingness to make institutional commitments and create at home a competitive economic, educational, and cultural environment.422 In recent years, many small states have emerged. Møller identified a sheer “proliferation of small states” in Europe, that started right after the Second World War and reached a new peak after the end of the Cold War. We are currently witnessing the birth of a new generation of small states, formed through the dissolution of empires and multinational states. The Soviet Union fragmented, with the former Union republics opting for statehood, but division has continued beyond that. Yugoslavia has likewise disintegrated, as has Czechoslovakia.423 Even today’s EU can be said to be a Union of small states, with 19 out of 27 Member States having less than 11 million inhabitants. The changing circumstances are likely to have a positive long-term impact on the overall position of every single small state in Europe.424 421 See THÜRER Daniel: The Perception of Small States. Myth and Reality. In: GOETSCHEL Laurent (ed.): Small States Inside and Outside the European Union. Boston/Dordrecht/London 1998, pp. 33- 42, here p. 39. 422 VON DÄNIKEN Franz: Is the Notion of Small State still Relevant? In: GOETSCHEL Laurent (ed.): Small States Inside and Outside the European Union. Boston/Dordrecht/London 1998, pp. 43-48, here p. 45. 423 MØLLER Bjørn: Small States, Non-Offensive Defence and Collective Security. In: INBAR Efraim/SHEFFER Gabriel (eds): The National Security of Small States in a Changing World. London 1997, pp. 127-154, here p. 127. 424 For a critical discussion of the issue in the context of EU-internal bargaining, see TALLBERG Jonas: Bargaining Power in the European Council. Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies Report 1:2007, Stockholm 2007. 122 3. Small States and ‘Perceived Greatness’ – ‘Too Big for Their Boots’?425 Something that appears to have survived the paradigmatic change in world politics at the end of the 1980s is the complex of positive connotations that is commonly ascribed to small states. Early achievements in Small State Theory have significantly contributed to the establishment of some sort of small state myth, a close to romantic concept about small statehood and alleged qualities and specificities of small states operating in international politics. In contrast to the pejorative idea of small state weakness in the anarchy of the international system, the positive myth emphasises the normative qualities small states are likely to develop if exposed to a world dominated by the logic of conventional power and superiority. Leopold Kohr has been among the most fervent advocates of small statehood, or more generally, of compact and easily controllable social entities. Building on his general criticism of neoliberal rationalism and the dogmatic belief in permanent economic progress and stable growth, he maintained that contented smallness would offer exceptional opportunities for a state (or another entity) to develop its normative strength, and to substantiate its moral qualities in terms of virtuousness and integrity. From this perspective, Kohr established the popular phrase of “small is beautiful”.426 The positive connotation of small statehood has been recurrently reproduced in Small State Theory. In a regulated order […] small states would be expected, due to their own vulnerability, to enjoy a special legitimacy and credibility to play the role of a critical, moral authority in international relations. They do not have the potential to enforce judgements of decisions, but perhaps because of this, they are specially committed to principles and norms. […] Small states play a value-promotive role.427 The proliferation of this image has involved both the way small states are seen by others and the way small states perceive themselves. The strong normative implications of this myth bring us back to the issue of psychological and ideological self-imaging of states. Just as a state’s awareness about the negative effects of its smallness (in terms of weakness and vulnerability) is perceived to elicit certain patterns of behaviour in the state’s foreign policy (strategies of power compensation), also a positive self-image must be expected to influence a state’s foreign political conduct. How can this argument be related to the phenomenon of ‘perceived greatness’? The positive myth of small statehood does not seek to deny the factual smallness of a state, it rather aims to emphasise the advantages of small statehood. Perceived greatness in turn could be said to ignore factual smallness, which remains a ‘fact’ either way. Developing this line of thought further in order to come to a conclusion about the effects a positive self-awareness could have, one could assume that a small state pursuing typical, in the conventional sense of power politics, ‘big state’ action strategies could, to a major extent be supported in its course and orientation when becoming aware of the wide-ranging positive connotation of its size and the strategic advantage 425 Wiberg introduced this phrase while characterising Swedish foreign policy conduct in the beginning of the 20th century. See WIBERG Håkan: Emanuel Adler, Michael Barnett and Anomalous Northerners. In: Cooperation and Conflict 3/2000, pp. 289-298, here p. 295. 426 KOHR Leopold: Die überentwickelten Nationen. Salzburg/Vienna 2003, p. 33. 427 GOETSCHEL Laurent: The Foreign and Security Policy Interests of Small States in Today’s Europe. In: Id. (ed.): Small States Inside and Outside the European Union. Interests and Policies. Boston/Dordrecht/London 1998, pp. 13-31, here p. 25-26. 123 that might result from this. The positive image of small states could bring them to the assumption that their normative or moral superiority liberates them from the logic of a power-related hierarchy or balance. The internalised awareness about their qualities and reputation could stimulate them to assume proactive positions. In a polycentric and, in conventional terms, largely safe environment (e.g. post Cold War Europe) small states are additionally liberated from the permanent pressure of acute external threat. This opens additional potential for small states to overcome their position as ‘reactive inferiors.’ In an international security environment where conventional threat is largely absent and the notion of a ‘small state’ has distinctly positive connotations ‘small’ states find an ideal surrounding for the pursuance of alternative or ‘atypical’ action strategies. With reference to the above list of small state patterns in foreign politicy, this could be – increased level of participation and activity in world affairs; – foreign political engagement in remote regions; – assuming the habit of selective cooperation with strong tendencies of Alleingang; – abstention from establishing any close or committal relationship with a superpower; – proactive positioning in cases of international confrontation (e.g. diplomatic); – cut down on foreign policy resources that serve to ensure physical survival. The widened spectrum of possibilities produces a differentiated picture of ‘small states in Europe’, not least partly derogating the purported effect of small state solidarity. This implies that in the event of enhanced international exposedness, e.g. through a proactive move promoted at the EU level, mutual suspicion and competitive confrontation among the group of small states become ever more likely, while shared weaknesses, like increased vulnerability and an augmented need to pool capabilities against an alleged predominant actor, cease to have a unifying effect. 4. Sweden and Finland – Typical Small States? In the conventional sense, i.e. telling from the size of their population, Sweden and Finland can both be regarded as ‘small’ states. Concerning their foreign political action pattern, the two Nordics show only little similarities. In the Cold War context, the Finnish external profile was largely determined and paralysed by the overlay of the permanent Soviet threat. Sweden in turn used the situation of lucky isolation in order to assume a largely activist role in international relations.428 In terms of the classical assumptions of Small State Theory, Sweden’s foreign political conduct during the Cold War must be categorised as largely atypical. Despite its material exposedness as a factually small state in a situation of bipolar superpower confrontation, Sweden stepped out of the shadow of mutual deterrence and pursued a proactive course in international politics, most significantly, with a unique air of self-confidence and pride. The notion of a ‘moral superpower’ (Swed. moraliska stormakten)429 probably describes this attitude best. The perceived greatness underlying this behaviour implied that the ‘typical’ concerns of small states in world politics did not have a major influence on Sweden’s 428 See BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 27. 429 See NILSSON Ann-Sofie: Den moraliska stormakten. En studie av socialdemokratins internationella aktivism. Stockholm 1991. And OTTOSSON Sten: Den (o)moraliska neutraliteten. Stockholm 2000. 124 choices in global diplomacy.430 In other words, Sweden challenged the commonly held view that “the powerful do as they will, and the weak do as they must.”431 After the end of the Cold War, Sweden again assumed an ‘atypical’ attitude in the sense that it did not seek to grasp the newly emerging opportunities that the multipolar world order had on offer. Finland in turn “rushed to embrace the West,”432 seizing the chance of ending its unloved state of conditioned isolation. After having already followed the logic of small statehood in power politics in the Cold War context, Finland also adhered to the (then) ‘typical’ action pattern once it had been liberated from past dependencies.433 Finland has sought to achieve a maximum of integratedness, and due to the absence of direct threat, also set out to assume a more proactive role in international politics. In contrast to the Swedish attitude during the Cold War, Finland has largely abstained from the promotion of any sort of ‘small state legacy’ for Europe. This turns Finland also into an atypical Nordic since the alleged moral progressiveness and superiority associated with this image still builds an important element in the Nordic self-image. Nordic superiority is also persistent in the outside perception; still today, Nordicness is largely associated with a group of “small, peace-loving and democratic countries”434 whose list of merits in international politics is long.435 Scandinavia […] as a group of militarily weak, economically dependent, small states deliberately act as ‘norm entrepreneurs’ in global eco-politics, conflict resolution, and the provision of aid. Scandinavia’s role in world politics today is to provide alternative models of engagement [that might be referred to as] the exercise of ‘social power.’436 Sweden just as Norway, and to a large extent, also Iceland has maintained this important feature in its own foreign and geopolitical self-awareness. However, the way Sweden avails itself of these specificities as strategic tools for the creation and maintenance of a distinctive foreign political profile has changed. Sweden has largely withdrawn from the global scene, with its involvement in international crisis management operations building an important exception. Sweden does no longer promote its normative convictions in a missionary way. Sweden rather tries to maintain an international profile as low as possible, and focuses its foreign political action largely on its Baltic surrounding. However, Sweden’s great power pride and perceived greatness persists. 430 See FÄLLDIN Thorbjörn: Sveriges roll i en spänningsfylld värld. In: Internationella Studier av Utrikesdepartmentet. Stockholm 1984, pp. 29-35, here p. 29. 431 INGEBRITSEN Christine: Norm Entrepreneurs. Scandinavia’s Role in World Politics. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 11/2002, pp. 11-23, here p. 11. 432 DAHL Ann-Sofie: To be or not to be Neutral. Swedish Security Strategy on the Post Cold War Era. In: INBAR Efraim/SHEFFER Gabriel (eds): The National Security of Small States in a Changing World. London 1997, pp. 175-196, here p. 191. 433 See DUBOIS Jeroen: The Northern Dimension as Prototype of the Wider Europe Framework Policy. University of Liverpool, Working Paper. Liverpool 2004, p. 3. 434 ØSTERGÅRD Uffe: The Nordic Countries in the Baltic Region. In: JOENNIEMI Pertti (ed.): Neo- Nationalism or Regionality. Stockholm 1997, pp. 26-53, here p. 28. 435 JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Remaking of Norden. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 367. 436 INGEBRITSEN Christine: Norm Entrepreneurs. Scandinavia’s Role in World Politics. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 11/2002, pp. 11-23, here p. 11. 125 In their core, Swedes still see themselves as a traditionally great power that should have influence on the European scene.437 Paradoxically, Sweden also employs the myth or cliché of small state integrity as an essential part of its current action strategy. Sweden still tries to profit politically from its own alleged marginality and weakness, trying to maintain its reputation as the offenceless and “boring backwater of Europe,”438 and thereby, to gain leeway and legitimation for its exceptionalist stance in questions of further integrative deepening on the European scale.439 5. Small States, Great Powers and Leadership in the Nordic Family During the Cold War, Swedish self-perception appeared to be dominated by the traditional awareness of being a regional leader in Northern Europe with Stockholm building some sort of regional centre of gravity. Østergård found an amusing albeit arguable evidence for the self-proclaimed Swedish supremacy in the Nordic sphere. The Scandinavianist vision was materialised in a somewhat perverted form in the shape of a museum in Stockholm bearing the auspicious name ‘Nordiska museet’ (Nordic Museum), though the imposing name conceals little more than a Swedish local-heritage museum with a smattering of Swedish royalism and anti-Danish sentiment thrown in. In the entrance hall, the visitor is confronted by an enormous and intimidating granite statue of Gustav Vasa, the call to ‘Warer Swenska!’ [sic!] (Be Swedish!) carved unambiguously into its base.440 While performing its own ‘felt’ or ‘perceived’ greatness, Sweden happened to be a strong supplier of what has been labelled ‘Nordic supremacy’. This self-produced image or cliché has been promoted eagerly and successfully in the context of the Cold War setting, and was gradually accepted, if not taken for granted on the international and global scene. Nordicness has been, and still often is, related to normative qualities such as virtue, righteousness or more generally, an inherent moral consciousness.441 Analysts have found different ways to evaluate the significance of this value-laden political label. Nordism’ is the label of this uniqueness, of the ‘superiority’ of Norden, which is enshrined in a historical, cultural, linguistic and even religious commonality.442 In essence Nordicity is part and parcel of cultural modernity that merged with certain orientations of a political kind. In terms of cultural radicalism it amounted to a specific 437 BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 27. 438 CAVE Andrew: Finding a Role in an Enlarged EU. In: Central Europe Review, Nr. 20. 22 May 2000. Online publication www.ce-review.org [26 November 2007]. 439 For a more abstract analysis of this distinctive Swedish action strategy, see chapter “The BSR as an Auto-Dynamic Unit Within the Wider Unit Europe”, p. 203-. 440 ØSTERGÅRD Uffe: The Nordic Countries in the Baltic Region. In: JOENNIEMI Pertti (ed.): Neo- Nationalism or Regionality: The Restructuring of Political Space around the Baltic Rim. Stockholm 1997, pp. 26-53, here p. 31. 441 See LEHTI Marko: Eastern or Western, New or False? In: TASSINARI Fabrizio/JOENNIEMI Pertti/JAKOBSEN Uffe (eds): Wider Europe. Copenhagen 2006, pp. 69-88, here p. 73. 442 TASSINARI Fabrizio: Mare Europaeum. Baltic Sea Region Security and Cooperation from Post- Wall to post-Enlargement Europe. Copenhagen 2004, p. 115. 126 Nordic ideology, which then paved the way for a societal development of its own kind during the 20th century.443 A cultural modernism merged with political conceptualisations and boiled down, under the heading of cultural radicalism, into an autonomous ideological phenomenon.444 In the context of European integration, this distinct ideological formation became also known for its inherent reluctance and symptomatical retentiveness when it came to the cession of sovereignty or parts of the exceptionalist stance in international relations. Over decades, the Nordic attitude was known as a ‘third way’, in both the ideological sense and in terms of political practice on the global scene. What has less often been considered in analyses about Nordic uniqueness is the analytical factor of intra-Nordic relationships and of the distribution of roles within the Nordic family.445 Looking further back into Nordic history, Iceland naturally had a more marginal position in both the development and international promotion of Nordicness, and with respect to the potential intra-Nordic competition or rivalry. Between Norway and Sweden, the close historical links and the geographical position have traditionally been decisive for their bilateral relationship. However, in recent years, their zones of geopolitical interest have not overlapped, given the strong Atlantic and Arctic orientation of Norway.446 The rapport between Sweden and Finland cannot be said to have ever borne an openly competitive air as did, for instance, the Swedish-Danish relationship. While over the decades, Sweden and Denmark rather competed on the level of Great Powers rivalling for regional supremacy, the Swedish-Finnish relationship has mostly been one between similar yet unequal neighbours. Only recently, after Finland had been liberated from past dependencies, and both Sweden and Finland had approached full membership in the EU, a more competitive relationship developed between them, with the Brussels scene becoming a major arena for soft rivalry and indirect ousting among them. As all Nordic countries rushed to the support of their tiny Baltic neighbours, a friendly rivalry developed between in particular the Swedish and Danish governments, with Finland moving in more quietly. All were equally determined to do their utmost to help, by use of their different doctrines and alignments.447 The Nordic countries tried to occupy a pivotal role in the process of EC/EU ‘approachbuilding’ towards its Northern neighbourhood. The prospect of actively shaping the priorities of the enlarging EU was seen as an opportunity to, on the one hand, maximize their influence and further their national interests, and on the other, to offer themselves as a political interface between the EU and Russia or as a contact point for either side. Between 1991 and 1993, the Nordic countries redirected their foreign policies towards their neighbouring areas. The flourishing of Nordic-sponsored initiatives at regional level and the 443 JOENNIEMI Pertti: Norden as a Post-Nationalist Construction. In: Id. (ed.): Neo-Nationalism or Regionality. Stockholm 1997, pp. 181-234, here p. 205. 444 ØSTERGÅRD Uffe: Norden – europæisk eller nordisk? In: Den jyske Historiker, Nr. 69-70/1994, pp. 7-38, here p. 15. 445 PETERSEN Leif: Splittrad familj drar åt olika hall. In: Svenska Dagbladet, 25 november 2006, p. 160. 446 See CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, p. 5. 447 DAHL Ann-Sofie: Activist Sweden. The Last Defender of Non-Alignment. In: Id./HILLMER Norman (eds): Activism and (Non)Alignment. Stockholm 2002, pp. 139-150, here p. 147. 127 substantial financial resources invested by the Nordic governments in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea area should be interpreted as the most evident sign of a rush to exploit the political and economic opportunities opened up by the [… ‘return’ of the Baltic states.448 The distribution of geostrategic and political roles in this intra-Nordic competition was very clear, since it could partly be told from the traditional self-perception and regional orientation of each of the five Nordics. This became evident with the focus each of them put in the field of bilateral aid transfer, where e.g. Finland showed a strong affiliation to Estonia as its main traditional partner in the region. The efforts and interests of Norway (and naturally, also of Iceland) had always been more devoted to the far up North and the Arctic sphere, while for Sweden, the newly emerging opportunities for cooperative interaction in the BSR had a very strong geostrategic significance.449 In other respects, the competitive game was influenced or determined by concurrent changes in the general political situation. This was particularly true for the Danish case since through the unexpected rejection of the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in late 1992, the country turned from the best-positioned player in the regional ‘game’ into an unfortunate outsider. In fact, after this event, the Danish government started to withdraw its early regionalist activism and assumed a more passive role in the process.450 This dealt a decisive blow to Denmark’s ambitions to play a pivotal role in the Northern neighbourhood of the EU and led its political elite and foreign-policy makers to adopt a less assertive stance at both regional and EU level. There was a return in a sense to the pre- 1980s attitude, marked by a low profile and pragmatism.451 Hence, since Denmark was forced out of the game, and Norway and Iceland clearly orientated themselves towards other spheres of geostrategic interest, which is, the Arctic Circle, the scene was largely left to Sweden and Finland. IV. Sweden and Finland as European Actors and Regional Stakeholders The following comparative chapters seek to identify some of the major differences between the two ‘similar but unequal’ Nordics, in order to eventually position them in the context of the implementation of the EU Northern Dimension. Before the study returns to the issue of policy creation and diffusion and the discussion of the intra- Nordic standing and reception of the EU ND, Sweden and Finland are compared in respect to the following two aspects: – their conduct within the EU and in the broader context of European integration; – their profile as regional stakeholders in the BSR, with special focus on their behaviour towards the Baltic States and their performance and orientation in subregional cooperation. 448 CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, p. 3. 449 See PETERSEN Leif: Splittrad familj drar åt olika hall. In: Svenska Dagbladet, 25 november 2006, p. 160. 450 See CATELLANI Nicola: The EU’s Northern Dimension. Testing a New Approach to Neighbourhood Relations? Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Research Report 35, Stockholm 2003, pp. 3-5. 451 Ibd., p. 5.

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Zusammenfassung

Seit 1989 ist es im Ostseeraum zu einer explosionsartigen Entstehung einer Vielzahl von regionalen Initiativen und Zusammenschlüssen gekommen. Der Ostseeraum weist bis heute eine europaweit einzigartig hohe Konzentration an kooperativen regionalen Strukturen auf. Diese bilden gemeinsam ein enges Netzwerk von Vereinigungen, die unter dem Überbegriff der "Ostseezusammenarbeit’ interagieren.

Diese Studie analysiert die Hintergründe dieses regionalen Phänomens oder so genannten „Ostsee-Rätsels“ auf Basis eines Vergleichs zwischen den Regionalpolitiken zweier staatlicher Schlüsselakteure, Schweden und Finnland, wobei der europäische Integrationsprozess als übergeordneter Bezugsrahmen für die Untersuchung dient.